‘Shawn’s Law’ legislation introduced to combat aiding, encouraging suicide

HARRISBURG, Pa. - A bill is introduced in the State House to increase criminal penalties for people who aide or encourage another person to commit suicide. It's being called Shawn's Law in honor of a York County woman died by suicide.

Holding their daughter's picture, family of Shawn Shatto, joined state lawmakers as they introduced legislation inspired by her.

"She finally gets a voice," said Shatto's father, Chip Bieber.

Shatto died by suicide in May. It was later discovered she was on a website forum where users appeared to tell her how to end her life, and encouraged her to do so.

"These monstrous strangers encouraged her to finish out the act of suicide," said Jackie Bieber, Shatto's mother. "Disgusting, appalling, unbelievable, unimaginable, unacceptable."

The legislation, sponsored by State Rep. Dawn Keefer of York County, would increase criminal penalties for people who are found guilty of aiding or encouraging another person to die by suicide. As people did to Shatto.

"These website members are true evil," said Jackie Bieber. "They are murderers who gain joy and ratification from the death of others."

Jackie and Chip continue to grieve the loss of their daughter. As they fight back tears, they continue on their missiont hey began four months ago to encourage change and turn their tragedy into a legacy.

"They made her feel death was the only way and I don't ever want anyone, ever to be in that place," said Jackie Bieber. "I want them to know there is hope, there is life, it does get better."

This bill is currently in committee. State Rep. Keefer is hopeful it will be passed into law this fall session.

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